Saturday morning. I’m up early, breakfast is at 7 and then I will be wasting no time leaving town. It’s an interesting hotel. Three of us have rented rooms and the management decides when breakfast and supper will be, the restaurant is not open for lunch.
I’m on the road at 7:45. The sun is shining, the roads have actually had about a day to dry out and that is helpful. The Robert Campbell Highway between Ross River and Watson Lake is like the Dempster in some ways. When it is dry, it is okay (but rough) but when it is wet….it is greasy and slippery like ice. Today is a good day and I can cruise at about 80 km/h.
I’m riding toward Watson Lake and have been on the road for about 45 minutes when I notice wobbly tire tracks on the road. I see them intermittently but they have been made since the rain. The tires that made the tracks are narrow tires, looks like a bicycle – but really wobbly. I ride for probably half an hour seeing these tracks until I round a corner, drop down a little incline and there in the valley bottom, I see a young man on a recumbent bicycle. He peddles along, weaving indiscriminately and apparently without pattern across the road – like a wanderer, having the time of his life. I slow as I draw abreast of him, shout a greeting to him about the beautiful day and the accent in his response suggests he is Australian. As I accelerate away, I grin to myself at the perfection of the stereotype: young cheerful curly headed lad, not a care in the world, weaving all over the road on a bicycle, one hundred miles away from civilization….has to be an Aussy!
Getting closer to Watson Lake the road roughens. There is a lot of traffic from heavy mining traffic in these areas and it takes a toll on the roads. At one point I hit a deep sharp chuckhole so hard that I think it could flatten my tire or bend my rim but the bike continues to run true without any change in handling. The road teases me with a stretch of pavement and then reverts to gravel….twice….before the pavement finally remains and I follow it into Watson Lake.
I fuel up at the gas station across the road from the sign forest (without taking the obligatory tourist photos) and head west toward Highway 37. I had originally planned on heading south down the Alaska Highway to Fort St John and Dawson Creek but excessive rains in those areas have washed out roads so my route south will mimic my route north.
I ride until about 11 PM when I pull into Smithers and find a motel with a perfectly adequate room. The next morning, I leave in the rain and carry on in my determined ride. Rolling out of Houston, a car pulls along side honking, waving and pointing - I smile and wave back…it is so nice when people have so much fun greeting travellers on the road.
I have planned stops in Burns Lake, Quesnel and Cache Creek. These fuel breaks are all that stand between me and home and I ride. Steady riding, three stops, I am home by 8 PM.
8,300 km in 13 days…2,000 were on gravel. I’ve written quite a bit here about the trip, what I saw, what I rode, what I thought, and what I’ve experienced. I think this has been a life changing experience for me but I’m not sure a person can be completely confident in a statement like that until some time has passed. I’m still processing a lot it all in my mind and will likely write more about that all in a bit of epilogue…..but I want to digest what I’ve written, what I’ve thought and what I’ve learned before I write more, so please continue to check back here for changes, updates and news. I'd like to keep this site active to remind people how important it is to discuss mental health issues (clinical depression in particular) in a rational, nonjudgemental manner...it is a health issue
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Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed it.